By Chris Anderson
“One of the pillars of Easy Company,” was how Major Richard Winters described him. George Luz was born into a large Portuguese-American family in Fall River Massachusetts on July 17, 1921. Moving with his family to Rhode Island in search of work, Luz quit school in his junior year to help his parents and eight siblings make ends meet during the Great Depression. Incensed as many Americans were by the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, Luz enlisted in the Army and, attracted by its elite status and the extra 50 dollars a month jump pay, volunteered for the newly formed airborne forces. Ordered to Camp Toccoa, Georgia, Luz arrived at the newly created home of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment to begin what he would later call, “the best three years of my life.”
Assigned to Easy Company
Assigned to Easy Company, Luz quickly found a place in the newly formed company as he quickly built a reputation as one of the funniest men in the company. A good sense of humor was critical as Luz and his fellow volunteers endured what was rightly regarded as the toughest training regime the Army had ever devised. Designed specifically to separate the weak from the strong, the training at Camp Toccoa was made even more difficult by Luz’s company commander; Captain Herbert Sobel.
Many members of Easy Company have remarked that Luz’s good humor was one of the things that helped the men endure Sobel’s oftentimes sadistic training routine. Fellow Easy Company soldier Forest Guth fondly remembered one of Luz’s antics during the company’s training runs up Mount Curahee, “When the company was running Curahee Luz, who was good at disguising his voice, would call out, ‘Captain Sobel to the rear.’ Sobel, who always ran at the head of the column, would dutifully double back to see what was up. Finding no problems and undoubtedly perturbed, he’d run back up to the front of the column. Later the joke would be repeated.” Luz was one of the handful that completed the training course at Toccoa and marched with the company 118 miles in 33 hours 30 minutes to Atlanta. After completing jump training in December 1942, Luz sailed to England with Easy company as they prepared for the invasion of Europe.
D-Day: June 6, 1944
Now a radio operator in the 1st Platoon, on the morning of June 6, 1944, Luz was part of a stick of paratroopers led by Lieutenant Harry Welsh. Unhappy with his place in the stick because he knew the heavy radio would slow down his exit from the plane, Luz traded places with Roy Cobb. Over the flak-filled skies of Normandy Luz had a reminder of how lucky he was as Cobb was hit by anti-aircraft fire over the drop-zone and unable to make the jump. Scattered like many of his fellow Easy Company buddies, Luz eventually found his unit in time to take part in the attack into Carentan on June 12, 1944. During this attack Luz was with Welsh and five other men who were pinned down by German machine gun fire at an important T-junction leading into town. As bullets peppered the ground around him, Welsh turned to Luz and rather excitedly asked, ‘where is the rest of the company, to which Luz responded, “I have no idea sir.” Urged on by Winters, the rest of the company moved up and Welsh and Luz were eventually able to silence the machine gun; allowing the rest of the company to begin clearing the crossroads.
Operation Market Garden
After relief in Normandy, Luz returned to Aldbourne with the company and prepared for the Easy’s next mission. While the D-Day veterans waited they were joined by replacements for the men killed during the fighting in Normandy. One of the replacements, Babe Heffron, remembered the impression Luz made on him as soon as he joined the company, “I found the most well-liked guy in the platoon was George Luz, one of the Toccoa guys. He was the company comedian. He could imitate people and he was always telling jokes. Good jokes, not like Guarnere. Luz was actually funny. He always told me I reminded him of his parish priest. He was a great soldier, all around 100% great American. Serious when he had to be, but he kidded with everyone he liked. He knew who could take a joke and who couldn’t.
Luz made the jump with Easy Company into Holland in September 1944 and was with the company when they liberated the city of Eindhoven at the start of Operation Market Garden. He remained with 1st Platoon during all their fights along Hell’s Highway and on the Island. Always in the thick of the action, Luz remained remarkably unscathed. Resting with the rest of the regiment in Mourmelon, France, Luz was with the men as they were trucked up to Bastogne at the start of the Battle of the Bulge. During the siege he served as radio operator for then company commander Norman Dike and was with Dike when he froze in the middle of a field during the company’s attack into the village of Foy. After Dike’s relief by Captain Ronald Spiers, Luz remained as 1st Platoon radio operator through the end of the war in Berchtesgaden. Ironically, having missed serious injury during all Easy Companies combat actions, Luz was injured in a motorcycle accident at the very end of the war.
After his discharge, Luz returned to Rhode Island and worked a variety of jobs and became involved in a variety of local community activities. He also became very involved in Easy Company reunions. Retirement did not suit Luz, and at 65 he returned to work. He died because of a work accident on October 15, 1998. So, loved was he by his community that more than 1,500 people attended the funeral.
Speaking of Luz, Major Winters recollected, “George Luz typified the average soldier in Easy Company-he was tough as nails, had a wonderful sense of humor and possessed a fierce loyalty to Easy company that was second to none.”
Travel on the Original Band of Brothers® Tour!
“This tour is special. There is nothing else like it.”
– Major Dick Winters, The Commander of Easy Company
We are honored to have had Major Winters travel with us on several occasions. As he experienced for himself, our Band of Brothers® Tour meticulously follows the path of Easy Company. It is based on the first-hand and personal recollections of the paratroopers and the extensive research of Stephen Ambrose, who wrote the best-selling book, Band of Brothers, on which the miniseries was based. Our original Band of Brothers® Tour is an experience unparalleled in its accuracy.